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The historic bell known as "La Sperduta" returns to Saint Mary Major

On 7th April, after the Chapter Celebration at 10 a.m., the new location of the historic bell known as 'La Sperduta' (the Lost One) will be shown. The bell has been returned from the Vatican Museums to the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major since 21st March 2024.

It is an artefact of great cultural value for the Basilica, belonging to the artistic apogee that occurred during the pontificate of Nicholas IV, the first Franciscan Pope. 

The bell, donated by the Roman senator Pandolfo Savelli "AD HONOREM DEI ET BEATE MARIE VIRGINIS", from the ancient bell tower was inserted into the belfry of the new tower, built in 1376 - still the highest point in the centre of Rome.

For its execution, in 1289, Guidotto and Andreotto Pisano recast an ancient bell from the time of Pope Callistus II (1119-1124).

From the top of the Esquiline Hill, it spread its sound throughout the city until 1884, when, due to a breakage, it was dismantled and later housed in the Vatican collection at the behest of Leo XIII (1878-1903). As a replacement, a new bell was placed, to which the story of the 'Sperduta' refers today, originally linked to the old one. 

Even today at 9 p.m., the tolling of the bell can still be heard in memory of the story of the pilgrim who was lost in the night and who, thanks to the tolling, found her way back into the city. 

From now on, the story of the 'Lost One' will not only refer to the young pilgrim but also to the historic bell itself, which returns to the Basilica after 140 years.

The bell will be exhibited along the route of the museum centre leading to the Loggia delle Benedizioni.



21 March 2024